COP26: Nature, weather, adaptation and loss

The second half of the Glasgow climate summit is now in full swing, following a weekend that was far from restful.

Nature and land use took the stage on Saturday, with environment secretary George Eustice saying we need to “put people, nature and climate at the core of our food systems” to maintain hope of restricting temperature rise to 1.5°C.

In response, the UK and Indonesia brought together 28 governments for a Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Roadmap to support smallholders, reduce pressure on forests and promote supply chain transparency.

Almost 1,000 major UK companies, including OVO Energy and Severn Trent, also agreed to work towards becoming ‘nature positive’, while the chief executives of Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose signed WWF’s ‘Retailers Commitment for Nature’ to reduce their businesses’ impact on climate, deforestation and biodiversity.

Yadvinder Malhi, an ecology professor at the University of Oxford said the conference has been “surprisingly positive” in terms of ambitions for protecting and restoring biodiversity.

The weekend also saw a civil society march of around 100,000 people, led by indigenous groups, take place in the Scottish rain. 

Looking ahead, ministers are returning to Glasgow this week to pick up where negotiators left off. A weekend stocktake showed that progress has been made on carbon trading and common timeframes for submitting nationally determined contributions, but much less on transparency rules and finance.

Greenpeace executive director Jennifer Morgan accused Saudi Arabia of trying to sabotage the talks, particularly in relation to speeding up national emission cuts to match the 1.5c goal.

Monday’s theme is adaptation and the perennially thorny issue of loss and damage. 

The UK government announced today that it would provide £290m to help vulnerable countries deal with the impacts of climate change, but Christian Aid's UK advocacy and policy lead Jennifer Larbie described this as just a "drop in the ocean". Dame Julia King, chair of the Committee on Climate Change’s adaptation sub-committee, said she wanted to see the $100bn climate finance sum matched by an equivalent amount for adaptation without taking any money from mitigation measures.